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Last Updated: Apr 21st, 2011 - 14:44:53 

Groundhog Day

What is a Groundhog?
By Cynthia Kirkeby
Jan 14, 2011, 08:58 PST

Take a look at what a real groundhog looks like and learn a little about this animals known for their weather forecasting expertise.

Charles H. Warren

Scientific Name: Marmota monax
CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Rodentia
FAMILY: Sciuridae

WEIGHT: 4.25-14 lb
TAIL: 4-10 in
LENGTH: 15.5-32 in

Groundhogs also known as Woodchucks and Marmota monax

According to the Entomly Department of Purdue University,
"The woodchuck (Marmota monax), a member of the squirrel family, is common throughout Indiana. It can be found in open pastures, woodlots, cultivated and fallow fields, and along railroad embankments, ditch banks, roadsides, fence rows, and levees. In cropping areas, woodchucks consume soybeans, corn and alfalfa. The extensive burrowing activities of woodchucks in fields can interfere with farm operations, cause damage to equipment, injury to livestock, and create significant erosion problems in levees, pond dams and railroad embankments. Around private homes, one or two woodchucks are capable of ruining a small garden almost overnight.

The woodchuck is a vegetarian. Various grasses, clover, alfalfa, plantain, and other types of tender green succulents make up its diet. In crop areas, it is especially fond of the soybean plant, but it will also feed on young corn plants and even ears in the milk stage. An adult woodchuck consumes between 1 and 1-1/2 pounds of vegetation daily.

Woodchucks enter hibernation beginning mid-October and emerge during February. They mate shortly after emergence, with a single litter of four to six young born a month later (March-April). The young leave the nest in early July to establish their own burrows and territories. Woodchucks live an average of 4-6 years."

Source: Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, David C. Petritz, Director

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